The Writing Lesson
“It was a dark and stormy night,” I began.
“No, no, no!” My teacher was not the most even-tempered of spirits. “You can’t start a story like that. Humans call it purple prose.”
“But it was a dark and stormy night.” I remembered it well.
“Forget the facts. This is fiction. You need a zesty, flashy opening paragraph. How about a moon? Humans love moons for Halloween.”
I thought of a different night. “There was a waning crescent moon ..”
She glared at me with lightening bolt eyes. “Are you sure you want to enter this contest? You seem to have no imagination at all.”
“But it was a waning crescent moon …”
“Stop! Close your eyes. Imagine a huge moon filling the sky, bright and dark at the same time. What color would a real writer imagine?”
I closed my eyes, pretending to be a real writer. “Blood orange!” I was starting to catch on.
“Liven it up a bit.”
“The dark orange moon is splotched with red which could be blood, or perhaps a horrifying face.”
“Add another Halloween image and you might possibly have a beginning.”
“A beautiful witch appears against the dark orange moon, her comely body framed by bloody blotches.”
“Hmmm. They won’t accept ‘beautiful’ for a witch; they want ugly and warty. Try another creature. And watch out for those clumsy sentences. Try alternating short and long, for effect.”
I summoned all my imaginative powers, pretending I was a silly human, scared of everything beautiful, everything powerful. I made up a catchy name for my protagonist and started imagining out loud.
Mirabella shivered as she stared at the dark orange, bloated moon. When the wispy clouds parted, she saw that the brightness was splotched with red blood. Or was that his face? No, it couldn’t be. She had rid the world of him eons ago. Suddenly another shape appeared. His cat Jinx, perched on a thick branch. He’s back, thought Mirabella, beginning to run.
“Now that’s a great start! Let’s keep going. Wouldn’t it be fun for a ghost writer to win the contest?”